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The Ref: Players leaving the field of play & Inverness corner controversy

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The ultimate aim of the game we love so much is to score a goal so when a player puts the ball, to quote law 10, wholly over the goal line, between the posts, under the bar and no infringement has taken place before hand the feeling must be fantastic.

This week I look at the celebration of a goal and why do so many players , particularly in Scotland, pick up cautions for “over celebrating”.

The law that deals with the celebration of a goal is law 12 fouls and misconduct. It states – a player must be cautioned if:

  • In the opinion of the referee, he makes gestures which are provocative, derisory or inflammatory
  • He climbs on to a perimeter fence to celebrate a goal being scored
  • He removes his shirt or covers his head with his shirt
  • He covers his head or face with a mask or other similar item

The later two mentioned above were introduced by the IFA Board after far too many players were using the beautiful game to broadcast their political or religious beliefs.

Making gestures towards opposing fans opens its own can of worms. We hear it all too often in the media and in fans forums that a player cautioned for making a gesture to oppositions fans was harsh after the abuse he had taken all match and the referee should have shown common sense – why must the referee have to show common sense?

Would you cup your ears to a baying crowd of 12,000 whilst standing in the street?, no, but that’s what Riordan done after scoring for Hibs at Tynecastle only for two enraged fans to enter the field of play and attempt to assault him. If it wasn’t for the quick actions of referee Conroy then the reputation of our game may have been dragged through the gutter yet again.

Footballers are expected to act with a level of decorum far greater than that of spectators. In 2002 Jamie Carragher was dismissed by referee Mike Reilly when he threw a coin, thrown at him just seconds before, into the Highbury crowd during an FA cup tie. Carragher was banned for three matches and fined £40,000.

In this country alone we have seen far too many unsavoury incidents from the ‘fans’ on the terracing to allow players to enter into ‘banter’ with opposing fans.

Most viewers of match of the day will rarely hear the referee blasting the whistle and chasing down the goal scorer to stop him heading toward his own fans to celebrate. In fact next Saturday watch an English premiership goal being scored and you will see the referee walking back to halfway line not fussed about the goal scorer.

In Scotland, our top officials are under strict instructions from Police Scotland to take action against players who engaged with spectators after scoring a goal. Our low attendances allow spare seats at the front and fans often race down the steps to celebrate with their heroes. This rush is why Police Scotland request a caution of the yellow card is variety from the official otherwise they will issue a caution of a different type to the player.

Our spectators need to understand that referees are not kill joys but have a duty of care not only to players but also spectators.

The corner kick – this week’s match between Inverness and Partick Thistle has caused some debate. For those who missed it here’s my quick version of events. The Inverness Caley player moves the ball with his foot from the edge of the corner arc closer to the corner flag. His teammate then runs with the ball as he’s under the impression the ball is in play. 25 seconds later Inverness CT score only to see that the assistant referee, Stuart Stevenson, has now raised his flag. After a debate with referee Euan Norris an indirect free kick is awarded to Partick Thistle.

The only reason this corner could be disallowed is for the referee not giving a signal for the kick to be taken. The ball just has to be kicked and moved at a corner it does not have to leave the corner act as stated by ‘expert’ Andy Walker. You won’t be surprised to know the last time these two officiated together was when Griffiths scored for Hibs against Hearts and both missed the ball crossing the line!

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